We had internet installed in our new house today. It's been frustrating to be stuck in the house because of Nugget and unable to take advantage of free time when he was napping or playing independently. I can understand the proliferation of "mommy blogs." It makes such a huge difference to be able to get online. Especially when there isn't even that much I can do around the house because the truck has not yet arrived with our stuff. I've had a lot of food for thought lately but no online time to blog about it. I'll try to cover some things quickly.
I joined a yahoo group for local moms before we moved here and have been watching the traffic on it with interest. There is a lot of garage sale type stuff that makes me aware of the different socioeconomics of my new life. I used to be a mom with more time than money--for whom selling old toys, clothes, and books (the inevitable detritus of quickly developing children) for $5-50 was not worth the time. Now I should probably pay attention to such strategies. There is also a lot of breastfeeding information that is no longer relevant to me and that I shovel aside quickly lest I allow myself to feel guilt for abandoning breastfeeding after 7 months, in significant part because of the difficulty of nursing while working long hours.
Yesterday there were several emails about stay-at-home moms. The first was titled "stay-at-home mom guilt" and contained an article from an attachment parenting guru (hmmm, think she's biased?), about why stay-at-home moms perform an important role. The sender of the email commented that the article helped her with concerns about being "just a mom." The first email was followed by several rah-rahs for stay-at-home moms, including a link to a Laura Schlessinger book. Which made me throw up a little in my mouth.[n.1] "Dr" Laura aside, I was bothered by the total absence of representation or acknowledgment of the other side of the coin. First off, I think the originator of the the email thread meant "shame" rather than "guilt." It wasn't clear to me why her feelings about being "just a mom" would be labeled guilt. And it was ironic to me because I think guilt is more typically the province of the working mom. I suppressed the urge to reply with heavy sarcasm but finally sent a very balanced, pacifist email (I swear, it sounded like a yoga teacher wrote it. I was so good.) noting the obvious.
It wasn't my true feelings though. I try to walk the line of not judging one side or the other in this working/stay-home mom dichotomy, trying to respect everyone's choices or burdens, but honestly I am increasingly convinced that women should not devote themselves wholly to their children. It's one thing to step your career down and find alternatives that allow you to spend more time with your kid(s), as I hope I am doing now. It's another to completely sacrifice your life for a short period and then--inevitably--expect that your kids will be willing to serve as your magnum opus. I don't think it's healthy for anyone.
I also am fully convinced that daycare is really good for young kids. Whenever I am faced with a mom (as I was again tonight) saying she "wasn't/isn't ready" or is concerned that her kid(s) isn't ready for school/daycare, I have to keep myself from rolling my eyes. For one thing, it totally ignores the many, many children who are in daycare because they and their mothers had no choice in the matter (or had overriding concerns), and those kids have turned out perfectly fine. For another, studies show that kids benefit from quality daycare. This makes total sense to me. I consider myself an educated and intelligent person who is engaged and puts in effort with regard to raising her kid, but my efforts to mimic Nugget's "circle time" in the last few weeks since he left daycare are I'm sure a poor shadow of circle time with his teachers who held degrees in early childhood development and were following a curriculum. There is no substitute for a mother's love and attention, but let's give the professionals their due.
I'm currently walking a line that neither side finds satisfactory, and I've experienced some pushback from the other side, too. Subtle things, like women asking me what I'm going to do now and when I'm going to start doing it, with an edge that perhaps I am imagining ... but I don't think it's just my imagination. Or my persecution complex. That is why I would prefer not to take sides in this debate ... the constant judging involved in parenting today is so unbelievably tiresome.
My plan is to get my son through the transition and get my family set up before I put Nugget in daycare and start my work in earnest. I am already a little done with the full-time mom thing though. Maybe that's swaying me. I'm just not cut out for this. If someone Freaky-Friday'd me and I had to spend a day as a daycare teacher I wouldn't last a week. The whining, oh the whining! It would be worse if he couldn't "use his words" at all, but god it is frustrating enough when he chooses not to all the time. I am so worn out with it by the end of the day, but I am all too aware that my husband has had his own long day at work and however much he wants to spend time with Nugget and give me a break, I can't expect to just hand over the reins when he gets home.
This is an abrupt transition but I wanted to move on to some pros. We went to a science museum on Saturday and for the first time in Nugget's life I wasn't checking my email every five minutes during our family outing. I didn't have to go running out of the museum back to the office. I didn't have to get online and work for a few hours when we got home. It was fantastic.
I have been thinking though about these screeds I sometimes read online where parents speak critically and disdainfully about other parents on their smartphones at the playground. First, there is the fact that it is very possible that parent could not be at the playground at all were it not for the smartphone allowing them to continue monitoring developments at work. Second, why are these parents so convinced that one needs to hover constantly over one's children? It depends on age and situation of course, but shouldn't we let our kids figure out how to handle it themselves when another kid cuts in line on the slide? I don't want Nugget growing up with his mother solving every problem for him almost before it arises.
More later, obviously. That's the point of a blog.
n.1. My husband abhors this phrase. He is wrong. It conveys a particular experience that is distinct from the broader "I threw up." It is when a small amount of bile enters your mouth and is quickly swallowed. Unpleasant, even disgusting and embarassing, but private and brief. [n.2]
n.2. Using footnotes is making me throw up a little in my mouth.